Maybe you’re new to managing your own finances and want to build an emergency fund. Perhaps you’re a seasoned saver and need to make holding on to your money a bit more exciting. Whatever the reason you’re reading this article, consider it a sign to begin a savings challenge today!
Many people recognize the importance of building savings, but few actually create a savings plan to achieve that goal. When you make a specific savings goal, it can help you clarify exactly what you’re trying to achieve and remind you to stay on track. Challenging yourself to monthly or even yearly savings challenges is a great way to make saving money more enjoyable. It’s also very satisfying to cross the goal off your list once you achieve it. Here are 6 fun savings challenges that will make you (and your bank account) feel good when you complete them.
1. Temperature Match
If you check the weather every morning, this savings challenge is for you. This fun challenge doesn’t have a set amount of money that you will save. Instead, the amount is dependent on the highest temperature of each day. If it is 72° Fahrenheit one day and 88° Fahrenheit the next, then you will put 72 cents for day one and 88 cents for day two into your piggy bank. This savings challenge can be done on a month-to-month basis or each year.
If you choose to do this as a monthly challenge, don’t be shocked if the amount you’re saving fluctuates from month to month. Because temperatures are higher in the summer, you’ll most likely save more in the summer than in the winter. However, you may have a summer job, which means you’ll be able to afford to put a little extra money into your bank account. Even though you are starting small, you’d be surprised how much money you will end up with by putting a little aside each day.
2. Surprise save day
If you like surprises, you should try the surprise save challenge. This challenge requires you to choose an accountability partner, but other than that, this challenge is entirely up to chance. Ask your friend to text you one day every month. It can be the same day each month, but switching it up will allow you not to try to tamper with how much money is in your wallet. Whenever your friend texts you a “surprise save day” message, whatever money is currently in your wallet or the balance in your favorite peer-to-peer payment app has to go into your savings. This hands-off savings challenge requires minimal commitment at only 12 days per year, but you can increase the number of days you ask your friend to text you to as many as you want.
3. $5 Save Challenge
Another fun money challenge is to put aside every $5 bill you come across. Whether you receive the money in a birthday card or as part of your change from a purchase, whenever you receive a $5 bill you should stash it away. Even if you find $5 on the ground, you will need to put the money away in a safe place. You can even take this a step further by including electronic payments. If someone happens to send you exactly $5 on any type of peer-to-peer payment app, then you could put $5 towards your savings. It might take awhile, but this challenge has the potential to really add up. This challenge can be a monthly challenge, yearly challenge, or be indefinite.
4. Envelope Stash
For this challenge, you will need 52 envelopes, a box, and a writing utensil. Next, you’ll label the envelopes from 1 to 52. Once the envelopes are properly labeled, put them into the box in a random order. Every week for an entire year, you’ll pick a random envelope and put the corresponding amount of cash in that envelope. Eventually, you will deposit the money in the envelopes into your savings account. If you wanted to opt for the option with less money-handling, you could just transfer the amount on the envelope from checking to savings weekly. The amount you put aside will be a different amount each week, but by the end of the 52-week money challenge, you will have saved $1,378. Saving over a thousand dollars doesn’t have to be scary if you tackle that challenge one week at a time.
5. No-spend Challenge
Perhaps a 52-week savings challenge won’t benefit you because you’re spending too much money. If this is the case, consider doing a no-spend challenge each month. Maybe one month you will decide to avoid eating out for a month, or you’ll try a pantry challenge, a type of challenge that involves using the food in your pantry before you’re allowed to buy new groceries. Perhaps you might try not spending any extra money for one week each month.
During whatever no-spend period you decide, you will need to buy the necessities like groceries and gas and pay your bills, but all other items during that period are unnecessary or considered an extra expense. Eliminating these kinds of purchases will help you subdue impulse purchases. It will also give you time to rationally think about the purchases you’ve made before the no-spend challenge and how it will affect your spending choices after the challenge. The best part about this savings challenge is that you can revert into a no-spending mindset whenever you wish to do it again.
6. Keep the Change
This spare change challenge involves making any unnecessary or “fun” purchases with cash, specifically dollar bills. Although it’s less convenient than swiping a card, it may make you think about your purchase more. You also won’t have to waste time digging in your pocket or coin purse for exact change. Instead, you’ll just hand over the bills and put whatever coins you receive in your savings. For example, if your total was $17.33 and you paid with a $20 bill, you would put the $2 back in your wallet and put the 67 cents in your savings, or a special compartment in your wallet or purse until you can put it in your account later. Over time, you'll begin to start the saving habit of placing your loose change from every purchase into a savings account, reminding you that when you spend money, you also need to save.
Saving money doesn’t have to be boring; you can involve the weather or seek accountability from a friend. Whichever money savings challenge you choose to complete, remember to write it down. As French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Instead of just wishing you had more money to save for a down payment on a home or to pay off debt, commit to a savings challenge that works for you. Every challenge you successfully complete will help you on your journey to achieving the rest of your financial goals.
✏️Do you have a budget? Use the free template in How to Create a Budget for College.
💳Have saving money mastered? Your next step is to master your spending. Read 5 Things You Should Buy With a Student Credit Card.